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Panic, fear grip Peshawarites

Panic, fear grip Peshawarites

PESHAWAR: The panic and fright among the people in Peshawar after being jolted by the earthquake on Monday were reminiscent of the devastating earthquake that hit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Kashmir 10 years ago.

The people working or living in the upper portions of the tall buildings experienced a lot of horror while several of them sustained minor injuries in the race to reach down stairs for their safety.

The level of horror and panic was so high that people started reciting versus of the Holy Quran and different prayers loudly.

Some of them started Azan (call for prayer) to seek God’s mercy. Two persons sustained severe injuries when they jumped from a building on Dalazak Road.

Although no major building collapsed in the provincial capital yet the powerful earthquake caused cracks in almost every tall building.

Even the historic Bala Hisar Fort couldn’t sustain the unprecedented earthquake as its outer portion got damaged. Besides, cracks were also developed in several tall buildings at Civil Secretariat, a few of them recently constructed.

A minaret of the centuries-old Masjid Mahabat Khan was also partially damaged.

The panic further increased with the immediate suspension of mobile phone service after the earthquake as people wanted to know about the safety of their near and dear ones. Most of the people standing outside the buildings were seen with mobile phones in their hands, trying to talk to their relatives and friends.

“When the earth stopped jolting, I tried for about half an hour to contact my family members to know about their safety but the cellular phones were not working,” Amjad Ali told Dawn. He heaved a sigh of relief after 35 minutes when the mobile phone service was made functional, enabling him to know about the safety of his family members.

“I clung to a pillar on the third floor of a commercial building in Saddar Bazaar when the building started swinging. I started reciting whatever prayers I could remember to invoke the mercy of God,” said a local resident while sharing his feelings with this correspondent.

“It was like a doomsday. We had a close brush with death. Everyone was running for safety. Women were crying on the street. The panic resulted in slight stampede as people started running down the stairs,” he added.

The parents, whose kids didn’t return from schools, were very worried as most of them were on their way homes after the school timing.

The disruption of mobile phone service also caused difficulties in shifting the injured people to the hospitals as they were unable to contact Rescue 1122. Most of the people injured in Peshawar were shifted to hospitals by their relatives.

According to the spokesperson for Rescue 1122, their medical teams provided first aid to 150 wounded persons in Peshawar and Mardan. The officials of Rescue 1122 also retrieved three dead bodies from the debris.

He said that 400 rescuers and 30 ambulances took part in the rescue operations in the two districts.

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2015

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